unless otherwise noted, all photos by Go Itami courtesy Schemata Architects

Located steps from Kurashiki Station in Okayama is Tachinomi Ura, a new standing eatery that opened late last year. Ura emphasizes local ingredients and seafood sourced from the Setouchi region, stylishly paired with sake from smaller makers you typically wouldn’t find elsewhere. The late-night eatery offers locals and visitors a welcome respite from the conflicting powers of tradition and tourism that have put strain on the area.

Tachinomi Ura is located near the Kurashiki Bikan Historical Quarter, sometimes referred to as Japan’s “Little Venice” because it’s located alongside Kurashiki river and is a historical area comprising classical Japanese architecture with outside influences. And while the area has enjoyed a surge in tourism, it’s also put a strain on local life because the neighborhoods became overcrowded with tourists by day and deserted by night.

Locals expressed a sense of crisis as Kurashiki’s pride and identity was becoming overshadowed. And contributing to the crisis was some of the more contemporary architecture made from a patchwork of scrap materials during the chaotic postwar period and resulting in less-than-significant buildings that were like “parasites” says architect Jo Nagasaka, who responded to the call for help to try and restore what was left of local culture.

The original site was a drab building home to a beauty salon. Due to rezoning of the train station, the building was also forced to be cut off at a corner, gouging out the facade in the process.

image courtesy google maps

The original structure had been “cut off at a 45° angle from the main building façade, creating a new façade. As a result, when viewing the facade from the front, the front wall of the main building, which should otherwise be perpendicular to it, appears to be folded inward at a 45° angle.” The architect decided to double-down on this fault, illuminating the building’s face by creating a large opening so passers-by could see the inside the skeleton.

Tachinomi Ura embodies and embraces the paradoxes of Kurashiki. Even the name Ura has multiple meanings such as ‘inside’, ‘back’, ‘reverse’ and was inspired by the phrase 表裏一体 (hyouri ittai) which means ‘two sides of the same coin’.

Tachinomi Ura (map)is open from 6:00 pm to midnight on weekdays and from noon on weekends. They’re closed Mondays.

images courtesy Tachinomi Ura